UPDATE: BHUTTO RELEASED
Pakistani authorities have removed the detention order after capturing some suicide bombers, story at Reuters:
“The detention order has been withdrawn,” said Aamir Ali Ahmed, Acting Deputy Commissioner of Islamabad.
Earlier in the day police prevented Bhutto from leaving her home and sealed off the capital and the nearby city of Rawalpindi to stop a rally against President Pervez Musharraf.
Bhutto, the politician most capable of galvanizing mass protests against Musharraf’s imposition of emergency rule, appealed to police to let her through their cordon.
“The government has been paralyzed,” Bhutto shouted to supporters across a barbed-wire barricade.
“If he restores the constitution, takes off his uniform, gives up the office of the chief of army staff and announces an election by January 15, then it’s okay,” she said, vowing defiance if Musharraf did not comply.
Musharraf, who took power in a bloodless 1999 coup, said on Thursday elections would be held by February 15, about a month later than they were due.
He also said he would quit as army chief and be sworn in as a civilian president once new judges appointed to the Supreme Court struck down challenges against his re-election.
It remains to be seen whether Musharraf, who had viewed Bhutto as a potential ally, can control events set in train by his shock decision last Saturday to impose emergency rule and suspend the constitution.
News is just breaking that Benazir Bhutto has been arrested by the military.
Update: There is a 30 day detention order that keeps her under house arrest, just as she was readying a mass demonstration in Rawalpindi. It also comes on the heels of her reaching out to PML-N, the party of Nawaz Sharif, to join her in the march. Police strung barbed wire around her house to keep her inside and has stopped her from departing in her car twice now. 5,000 of her supporters have been arrested, and in phone interviews Bhutto spoke out, saying that Pakistan could become like Iraq, and that it’s in a state of paralysis due to the emergency rule imposed by Musharraf.
Around the country small gatherings of students have been grouping at schools to protest against Musharraf and the blanket on the media, and to protest for Freedom.
[editor – purely personal opinion below]
The saddest thing to see about all of this is the comments on blogs around the country. While Bhutto is seen as a viable candidate in some parts, the rest of the country dislikes her almost as much as Musharraf.
Pakistan has no real leaders, no statesmen, just people who are aligned to various corrupt power factions and mullahs wedded to evil repression. It’s no wonder that the Islamists are able to gain good purchase in a country where politics is always about the cult of personality instead of ideals, purpose, platform, reason, and the future. This is what happens when tribal factions and splinters are played continuously against each other – only the worst rise to the top. [editor: end of venting.]
More from the Daily Telegraph:
Ms Bhutto told The Daily Telegraph that she would not enter into any negotiations until the emergency rule was lifted, Gen Musharrraf resigns as army chief and the constitution is “revived”.
The government is monitoring the PPPs reaction carefully today to make sure that protests do not create an obstacle to Gen Musharraf’s plans to have his newly formed Supreme Court dismiss objections to his eligibility before resigning as army chief and taking oath as president for second time.
He said that general elections will be held by mid-February but with the imposition of a state of emergency, the arrests of thousand of lawyers, politicians and human rights workers and the dismissal of the chief justice, the credibility of both himself and the polls is in grave doubt.
This comes as the new Supreme Court sworn in after Musharraf arrested and deposed the former justices gets ready to hear the challenges against his candidacy for President. Increasing pressure has come from around the world to both hold free and fair elections, and for him to remove the uniform thus ending the dual offices he holds. This will become unconstitutional on November 15th under the old constitution, if it’s still in effect.
Meanwhile Metroblogging Islamabad has this:
I’ve just heard on the “wireless” that BB has been placed under house arrest. She announced the “long march” and hey presto, she too has been made “nazar bannd”… the entire nation is at the mercy of the armed forces once again in our turbulent 60 years having to submit our fate to the Armed forces – again.
At the same time we have seen how easily chacha Bush has so much influence over our dear leadership – one phone call and we are on the road to “democracy” !.. The question I’d like to ask is where is the United Opposition ?? it seems each party has once again resorted to thier petty demands which Musharaff easily exploited to his advantage earlier in this year.
Who will lead Pakistan out of this quagmire ?
Meanwhile in the Frontiers the Islamists continue to march forward pretty much unopposed as another garrison of 60 Frontier Corps troops surrendered weapons to them at Druskela Camp in Swat.
More on the situation in Swat from Metroblogging Lahore.
Militants, belonging to a religious extremist lot under the leadership of Mullah Fazlullah have taken over most parts of Swat stressing the imposition of (their own form of) Sharia Law. Mullah Fazlullah is also widely known in Swat as “Mullah radio” as he would make speeches through a pirate FM radio station, calling it holy war against the government. The inhabitants of the region are harassed and are seen evacuating their homes and cities/ villages in troops only for their own safety and freedom.